The Value Of Hard Work
It has been a year full of great successes, but none have come without it’s fair share of struggle and hard work. The saying goes - "With great risk comes great reward" I have always found this to be true. I have risked a lot this year and have put myself far out on the line with the belief that my drive and passion for what I do would see me through. I have been blessed and for that I am extremely grateful.
My challenge in 2012? Taking over a kitchen and re-inventing it. The easiest thing would have been to stick to the old format, brush up a few of the established recipes and not cause too much of a wave, but that was far from my vision. My passion for food begged for more. I wanted to offer much more.
My challenge for 2013? Building upon the foundation laid and reaching new goals.
Don’t be fooled by what anyone tells you, success comes with hard work but if you love what you do it’ll feel like you’re hardly working. I wish you all nothing but success in this coming year. I want to give my deepest appreciation to all that have been on this journey with me and have seen me through, either physically or virtually. I hope we can continue together through 2013.
Chef Sunayna Agha and Annie Ali Khan
Yesterday I had a busy day filming for the show Voice OF America. I am seen here with Producer/Editor/On Air Talent Annie Ali Khan. Annie and I have been long time friends and I am extremely pleased that we have been able to live our dreams and come together for this moment. Mostly, I am grateful for the opportunity to invite the media into my kitchen.
Annie works tirelessly to bring a fresh, hip, young and dynamic perspective on our culture to the masses. I am honored to have worked with her.
Take a moment to find out more about Annie.
Annie Ali Khan blog - http://anniealikhan.wordpress.com/
Annie Ali Khan Twitter page - https://twitter.com/pakistannie
Annie Ali Khan Segment - http://www.urduvoa.com/media/video/1513417.html?z=3369&zp=1
Thank you Annie!
With the love of cooking professionally comes the many challenges of the restaurant business. One of the biggest challenges is redoing the menu. Why? The food is the identity of the business. Good or bad, what guests you have come for the food that is currently being served. Even a flailing business is leery of making changes to their mediocre fare from fear of losing their small following.
Times change, tastes evolve and new cooking techniques are introduced. In order to remain viable you must be willing to stay current. In order to stay current, you must be open to change. Change can be risky. The challenge here is creating a fresh menu that will cater to your regulars while attracting the new foodies.The trick? Reworking some items that will hark back to the previous menu. This will help bridge the gap between the old and the new without entirely alienating those devoted regulars. This gentle buffer can also serve as an introduction to the newer items.
Pictured here is the Oatmeal Brûlée with Fresh Fruit - Oatmeal was part of the previous menu at Zé Café. It’s simple, safe and easily recognizable. I decided to keep it. I was able to incorporate this guest favorite by adding a thin sugary crust, topping it with fresh seasonal fruit, and setting it within a crisp white dish. It melds nicely with the new cuisine and adds a friendly “face” to what could otherwise be an intimidating change.
Zé Café - 398 East 52nd St New York NY 10022
Why are these pans empty you ask? Well they represent a clean slate. The brunch and lunch menus are done; dinner is next. I have put careful thought into my menus but dinner requires a little extra love. It is the time usually reserved for gatherings with friends, family, or intimate moments with a loved one. It’s the end of the day with it’s cares behind you and nothing but a few short hours ahead of you to enjoy what is left of it. So, here I go again. Back to my white board…
The day has arrived. The new lunch menu is ready for presentation. Besides a little tweaking here and there, there’s really not much else to do but stand back and see how it unfolds. First thing? A full staff tasting. Everyone must have an understanding of taste, texture, the ingredients used, where they have been acquired from and preparation. This is also a great time to answer any questions from the team. A pleasurable dining experience is about the entire process and every detail is essential in ensuring the success of great cuisine.
Who doesn’t love a good cheese plate? It’s perfect for sharing with friends over a nice cold beer or a cleverly paired glass of wine. It was a pleasure to sift through the many varieties of golden cheese wheels and hearty blocks. The flavors and textures ranged from soft and delicate to outrageously pungent and deeply aromatic. I finally settled on a few that I think everyone can enjoy.
Pictured here is the Cheese Plate - 5 Yr Aged Gouda, Holzhfer, Guardrello Di Bufala, Shropshire Blue, Ubriace Al Prosecco, and Don Mariano. Served with Baguette Crostini and a delicious piece of Honey Comb. How sweet is it…
I did a quick search online for “grapefruit and sugar” just to see what I might find. A variety of pictures popped up showing grapefruits sprinkled with sugar or drizzled with honey. Not bad. Not great, but not bad at all. If you’re in a rush, or just really don’t want to bother too much, this will do the trick. However, sometimes you want to go the next step.
Pictured here is the Sliced Grapefruit Brulee - This exquisitely simple dish consists of nothing more than grapefruit wedges sprinkled with sugar. Almost like the ones mentioned above, but not quite. The grapefruit is skinned and the sugar coating is gently torched to form a crispy sheet. No, it’s not rocket science, but torching the sugar adds warmth and texture while allowing the grapefruit to stay cool underneath. It’s enough to take it from mundane to superb.
I was trying to decide which picture to post today. I have a lot on my mind. I just launched a brunch menu and am now in the middle of designing both lunch and dinner menus. Taking something a guest can easily recognize and creating a new way in which to serve it can be a bit of a challenge. Salmon is one of those things.
Pictured here is a House Cured Smoked Salmon Crêpe: The salmon is cured in house with a custom blend of seasonings. It’s served with a dollop of scallion crème fraîche, thinly sliced red onions, farm fresh frisée, and crispy fried capers for a hint of texture. Everything sits on a light and fluffy crêpe. It’s a gentle twist on an old favorite.
Are you still eating French Toast for breakfast? Sure, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s been a bit overdone. It needs a bit of a rest. It’s summer! You have a sweet tooth? How about something citrus? Yes, it still borders on sinful, but you can still feel good about this one. Pictured here is a Lemon Ricotta Crepe with Grapefruit and Orange Marmalade and topped off with candied orange slices. Everything is made in house, from scratch, and served fresh at Zé Café. So, sure you can go for the old French Toast standard, but why not give something new a try?
It’s 8:30 am; a great time for brunch on this gorgeous Saturday morning. How about this hearty English Breakfast? Looks can be deceiving and this simple brunch plate is anything but. The crisp produce and flavorful eggs are fresh from the restaurant’s organic upstate farm. The bacon is sliced and smoked in house. The beans are also smoked in house. The smoked items on the menu are prepared with a custom blend of spices and seasonings. Special wood chips are used. The process can be slow, but the reward? Satisfaction.
I recently witnessed three very petite teenage girls sit at the restaurant bar and order food. I was convinced they would order light. I was wrong. They each ordered an English Breakfast, wiped their plates clean, and happily went on their way…wow.
Zé Café - here